Photo: Courtesy of New Museum
If you and your fiancé fell in love over a shared passion for art, design or history, why not incorporate that into your big day? There's nothing cooler than watching your childhood friends mill around a Richard Avedon portrait or 8-foot-long Triceratops fossil. These New York City museums serve double duty as reception venues and nods to your cultural affection.
New Museum (Above)
A wedding on the Bowery isn't what it used to be when Johnny Ramone rocked CBGB. The new Lower East Side is home to The New Museum, which not only exhibits avant-garde artists, but perfectly encapsulates Manhattan's downtown vibe. With three event spaces offering distinctly different moods: there's the ground-floor lobby adorned with polished concrete, Sky Room featuring floor-to-ceiling views of the New York skyline, and minimalist theatre — capacity is up to 350 for cocktails and 100 for seated events. Read real brides' reviews here!
Photo: Courtesy of the Guggenheim
The Guggenheim's grand, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed spiral rotunda is a point of reverence for architecture lovers, and makes for a modernist's dream reception, with a capacity of up to 1,000 for a reception and 300 for a seated dinner. (The Guggenheim can't host religious or civil ceremonies because of its nonprofit status, but receptions are a go.) For smaller parties, two additional rooms — The Wright (a mid-century dining room) and Café 3 overlooking Central Park — solidify the museum's reputation for exemplary design.
Photo: Brian Finke
American Museum of Natural History
Dine beneath a 94-foot-long suspended blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, or dance with dinosaur bones in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. Maybe your idea of romance more African elephants and black rhinoceroses? All good, with nine different reception space possibilities in a colossal four-level museum — and a total capacity of up to 1,000 for a reception and 450 for a seated dinner — there's room for your guest list — be it big or small — to marvel at nature's curiosities.
Photo: R Wagner Photography
The Frick Collection
A Beaux-Arts style mansion built in 1913 by industrialist and art-lover Henry Clay Frick, this is a spot for Guilded Age addicts (and who isn't, really?). A reception at one of the Frick's three event spaces — Entrance and Reception Hall, Garden Court or Music Room, with a total capacity of up to 500 people for a reception and 200 for a seated dinner — will let guests experience Frick's extensive collection of 19th century paintings, furniture, carpets and porcelains, in "an unhurried way, as Mr. Frick might have." (Because it's a nonprofit, ceremonies are a no, but receptions are fine.)
Photo: Merchant's House Museum
Merchant's House Museum
Tailor made for true New York City history buffs who want a more intimate reception — the venue can hold up to 40 people — the Merchant's House Museum (located in the East Village) is virtually unchanged since 1832. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark for its late-Federal brick exterior and Greek revival interior rooms, the museum's options for ceremony and reception include its Greek Revival Double Parlors, a 19th century garden and cozy "period" kitchen.
Photo: Park Avenue Armory
Park Avenue Armory
Not technically a museum, but a proud stalwart of New York City turn-of-the-century history, two of the Park Avenue Armory's six reception rooms are the only surviving Louis Comfort Tiffany (as in the lamp)-designed rooms in the world. The armory's massive Drill Hall has 38,000 square feet of useable space and invokes the feeling of a 19th century European train shed. The building itself is time capsule, and it's definitely the venue for black ties and velvet gowns, with a capacity of up to 800 for receptions and 250 for dinner.
Photo: Selldorf Architects
What could be more thrilling than seeing guests mingle around Gustav Klimt's famed (and reclaimed) Woman in Gold painting? It's just one of many stunning works of German and Austrian art from the 19th century housed in The Neue (pronounced "noya"). Built in 1914 and originally a Vanderbilt estate, the museum — which has a capacity up to 300 for cocktails and 60 for a seated dinner — contains four floors of public event space, including the ÿber charming Café Sabarsky featuring period lighting, a Bösendorfer grand piano and a throwback to 19th century Europe. Head's up: the Neue requires you to become a member in order to host an event, food and drinks are relegated to the first floor and catering is exclusive to the cafe.
Photo: Courtesy of Cooper-Hewitt
Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
As a former 64-room Carnegie mansion-turned-museum built at the turn of the century, the Cooper-Hewitt checks the box for opulence. With a capacity of up to 1,000 for a standing reception and 500 for a seated dinner, the museum focuses on historic and contemporary design, and features one of the city's largest private gardens (which can be tented for receptions). For indoor gatherings, the museum's Great Hall entryway serves as elegant event space, as do the smaller areas — the Lecture and Trustees rooms.
Photo: Great Performances
El Museo del Barrio
With exhibitions focused on Latin and Caribbean art and craft, El Museo offers several rich, colorful spaces to salsa with a capacity of up to 250 guests for a reception and 80 for dinner. El Café overlooks Central Park's Conservatory Garden and can be combined with the museum's courtyard and lobby to expand space. Las Galerías, on the other hand, allows guests to celebrate among the museum's permanent collection of ceramic and stone archeological objects (preferably with Mojito in hand).